Deputy minister Mcebisi Skwatsha reportedly said yesterday, during a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform, the ANC would hold a conference in March to discuss expropriation without compensation, and that the decision would then be implemented by all relevant state departments. He was cited as saying the ANC would determine whose land to take and how it would be done.
However, Mr Ernest Pringle, chair of Agri SA’s land centre of excellence, said land would not be simply for the taking. This was also not a decision the ANC can take unilaterally and simply start implementing.
Constitution must be amended
No expropriation without compensation can take place unless the Constitution is amended, said Pringle. This will be a time-consuming process during which wide consultation must take place, and which would require the necessary majority votes in Parliament in favour thereof.
Private property rights are an internationally recognised principle that is protected by international human rights instruments, such as article 17 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Moreover, the threats of expropriation without compensation is contrary to the policies adopted by vital international agencies such as the World Bank and the IMF. The economic impact of ‘taking’ land will be catastrophic, as already pointed out by various economists.
The poor will be worst affected
The poor will be affected worst by the outcome of such an irresponsible step, added Pringle. “This type of statement issued by politicians plays into the hands of opportunists who want to use it as an excuse to invade land. It is extremely dangerous.”
Pringle also pointed out that enormous expectations were created around the issue of land reform without compensation, which could also boomerang politically. “Has anyone thought what would happen after land has been taken? To whom will it be given, who will be denied access, and where will the capacity suddenly come from to assist those who receive land to use it productively?”
Agri SA called on Mr Ramaphosa to take the organisation and the public into his confidence as soon as possible regarding what exactly is being envisaged. Agri SA has not received an invitation to attend the conference in March, although it is a critical role-player in the matter and would like to debate with the ANC leadership in this regard,” said Pringle. – Agri SA